There is no substitute for live, in person training. I feel that a practitioner really has to cross hands and feel the energy of a training partner. If martial artist concentrates on forms or kata, without the benefit of opposing force, then I feel they are spinning their wheels and getting no where. If you want to learn to defend yourself in a fight, you must know what it is like to be pressed by an equally advanced opponent. Sparring is simply pressure testing your techniques in a fairly controlled environment. What we do at PTSDC is teach a student the techniques that they will need in a fight. With some time and practice, we then pad them up and let them do some light sparring. After these skills have advanced, the sparring becomes more rigorous and they student then gets an opportunity to be pressure tested even more. At some point, the student will know, without a doubt, they can fight and they can defend themselves. Keep practicing and moving forward.